img9719Sparkman & Stephens and Shaw Yachts are proud to announce the reintroduction of the Dark Harbor 20, the 30-foot LOA, 20-ft DWL one-design class sloop originally designed as wooden plank-on-frame construction in 1932. Today, most of the original 21 that were built are actively racing in Islesbore, Maine. The new 'DH20s' are being built to both augment the original fleet as well as offer a classic daysailer to those outside the fleet. Using modern fiberglass materials and production techniques, the new DH20s will be offered at a very reasonable cost and offer a low-maintenance way to own a piece of sailing history.

In 1932 a committee composed of members of local yacht clubs around Long Island Sound was formed, including members from Seawanhaka, Larchmont and American Yacht Clubs. Their task was to develop a new class of racing sailboat to compete with the Sound Interclub and Atlantic classes. One of the proposals was from Sparkman & Stephens, A Proposed New One- Design Class for Long Island Sound. Hull number one was named Gimcrack, a 34'-6" LOA, 23'LWL low-profile day sailor very similar in appearance to the Dark Harbor 20.

img9718Olin Stephens and the Davidson Laboratory at Stevens Institute successfully used Gimcrack to correlate scale model results with full-scale sailing testing, measuring the longitudinal driving force, aerodynamic side force and heeling moment. The correlation constants between model testing and full-scale performance as derived by these studies became known as the Gimcrack Coefficients. The Gimcrack Coefficients were the first known comparison of this type, proving to be a significant breakthrough in the science of sailing yacht performance prediction.

This early trial horse became the genesis of the design of the Dark Harbor 20. In 1934, Olin Stephens took the results from the Gimcrack testing and designed the Dark Harbor 20. She was designed as a fairly fine ended and easily driven hull form, with a simple and straightforward rig. Twenty-one Dark Harbor 20 were built in the first half of the 20th century. Due to the dedication of their owners and the members of the Tarratine Yacht Club of Dark Harbor (Islesboro, Maine), most all of the original DH20's still exist today and actively compete in the pristine waters of coastal Maine.

70 years later, S&S, the Tarratine Yacht Club, and Shaw Yacht of Thomaston, Maine, have collaborated to begin the construction of new, fiberglass DH20's.

img9716To ensure that the new boats could compete on equal footing with the older boats, a group of five wooden boats were weighed and tested for stability. The new boats have been engineered to have the identical performance characteristics of the old boats, including the continuted use of wooden mast and booms! The original hull shape has been accurately replicated in a 3D model, and will be used to computer generate the new hull molds.

The end result is a low maintenance, low cost opportunity to become a part of a truly esteemed sailing and racing class experience. In the words of Olin Stephens:

"They are nimble, exciting to race, and typically carry a crew of three in addition to the skipper. Displacement is light and beam is moderate towards narrow; the hull easily driven. Draft of the fin keel is also moderate. The fractional sloop rig seems suitably proportioned. The boats are also attractive in appearance, as would be expected of a class sailed in this stylish and long established enclave."

Shaw Yacht of Thomaston, Maine has been selected as the authorized builder of the new fiberglass Dark Harbor 20s. The production-quality molds of the hull, deck, keel, and rudder are created directly from Sparkman & Stephens 3-dimensional surface models for a high degree of accuracy to the original plans.

img9717The hull, deck, deckhouse, and cockpit are to be built of hand-laid fiberglass over a foam core. The rudder and deadwood will also be built of fiberglass, with the cores of each being poured foam with an adjustable density to accurately match the weights of their original wooden counterparts. The boats will be finished in gelcoat for a durable, low maintenance finish, with a color of the owner's choice. The deck surface will have a durable canvas non-skid pattern akin to the originals, achieved by having a permanent texture added to the deck molds.

To retain the aesthetics of the original boats, the new boats will have a tasteful amount of wood trim. Woods available will be either teak or mahogany, and either oiled or varnished. The deckhouse and cockpit seating will have vacuum-bagged wooden veneers while the cockpit coamings and toe rails will be solid wood. The spars will be constructed directly from the original plans, and be built of high grade, clear Sitka spruce.

Principal Dimensions

Beam6'- 8-1/2"
Keel Draft4'- 1-1/4"
Displacement5200 lbs
Ballast2620 lbs
Sail Area357 sqft
Sail Area/Displacement Ratio19.0
Displacement/Length Ratio290
Hull ConstructionCored polyester composite
Mast & RiggingSpruce spars Stainless rigging

Sparkman & Stephens, Inc.
529 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10017